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The Souls games can seem intimidating, just understanding the basics of the game is a daunting task, but once you do they’re all incredible experiences, or so you’ve heard!

So you’ve made a character and maybe you’re getting your ass handed by Iudex Gundyr, the very first boss in the game that you meet about five minutes in. Or maybe you’ve progressed a little bit further but think everything is confusing as hell. Well, I’m here to help!

(There’s some build-ideas further down if you only want that)

First off, forget everything about classes. There are no classes in Dark Souls, just general starting points that gives you a set of gear. With that said, if you hate bosses Pyromancer is your best bet as his starting fireball spell melts everything until you get better gear. Also, your starting weapon might matter as some of them can’t be found until the third major area.

Anyway, instead I will talk about stats and weapons and how to make a working build. All of this will mostly be relevant for PvE as I have very little interest in PvP. If you want to know why for some reason, I simply don’t enjoy it, though I have done some PvP, mostly in Dark Souls 2.

 

Planning your character

That sounds hardcore as hell, like you’re supposed to plan out every single level and your weapons and gear. You CAN do that but there’s very little reason to unless you’re trying to optimise a PvP build.

First off you should pick at least one offensive stat to focus on.

 

Strength – The stat for big, slow weapons. Strength only increases your damage and lets you equip bigger, heavier weapons. Light swords require around 12 strength while axes and greatsword require maybe 16-20. For ultra greatswords and similar extreme weapons you need at least 32 strength to onehand them. Remember that when you twohand a weapon (Press Triangle or Y) you count your strength as 50% higher for being able to wield it, though not for damage.

The “soft-cap” for Strength is 40, after that you barely get any more damage by increasing it further but if you’re focusing on strength, you should get it to 40 at some point. Any build except pure caster needs some strength to equip their weapons. You also need some strength to use a shield and a shit-ton of it if you want to use great-shields.

The Warrior is the best choice if you really don’t care about spells or weapon skills or fancy Dex-weapons. It’s a fine chioce really as it has great starting gear as well. The Knight has a bit of everything, the big upside is probably his low luck and a shield with 100% physical block. He also has the heaviest armor of the lot, it takes a lot of farming or progress to get armor as hefty as his. Finally there’s the Cleric who starts with a great healing spell as well as low int and dex. Cleric is due to his healing one of the most newbie-friendly classes, you just stack Strength, Faith and a bit of Vigor and you’re pretty much set.

Look for a Heavy Gem, it makes your weapon scale even better with Strength by Infusing it at Andre the smith.

 

Dexterity – This is for quicker weapons like dagger, scimitars and spears. There’s also a few two-handed swords that scale well with Dex. Dex might seem like the harder stat but some the easiest, most powerful weapons like rapiers and spears use Dex. If you’re going to skip shields altogether the Mercenary class is a great choice as it starts with dual scimitars. There’s also the assassin which starts with Spook, one of the best support spells in the whole game and a estoc, a gigantic rapier. And finally there’s the Thief with the pretty much shittiest starting gear of all classes. If you love parrying and backstabs the Thief might be a good choice, but otherwise steer clear.

Bows also use Dex and they’re terrific at finishing off enemies or taking out snipers.

Look for a Sharp gem, it makes your weapon scale better with Dex.

 

Intelligence – The stat of choice for the caster. Soul magic has a ton of different spells for various situations and it’s often great against bosses. If you’re going full caster you should pretty much only focus on Intelligence, Attunement and a bit of Vigor. The rest of the stats are more or less useless to you. The Sorcerer is definitely the choice for this playstyle while the Assassin is more of a Dex/Int-hybrid and the Pyromancer is Strength/Int.

The Pyromancer is probably the best overall starting class if you just want to try things out. The starting fireball melts faces and all their stats except Dex and Luck are moderately high. Pyromancy is extremely effective against a lot of bosses and they increasingly crazy spells.

Look for Crystal gems if you’re going high Int and want a backup weapon, it makes the weapon scale with Int.

 

The Herald is a hybrid class with semi-heavy armor, a good shield and a spear. Only Int is low and while the class starts with a healing spell, it’s pretty crappy. Still Herald is a good choice if you want to go Dex/Faith while still using a shield. Spear, shield and healing spells is an extremely powerful combo that’ll last you the whole game.

Finally there’s the Deprived who starts at level 1 with 10 in all stats. The starting weapon, a club is actually a really good one. Your lack of armor will however be a problem early on. Deprived is a great choice for certain builds, but it’s terrible if you don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t blame me if you pick this and get stuck on the first boss.

 

Faith – I put Faith down here because it’s not a offensive stat. There’s a lightning spell and a few other offensive ones but they’re support attacks for specific situations, not your main attack (I’ve tried, compared to soul magic and pyromancy offensive miracles blow). Faith-magic does however have all the best support spells, like healing and cleansing. Unless you start as a cleric it will however take a while until you can get decent spells so don’t pump it early on.

 

Now let’s cover the other stats. You can make builds around them but none of them increase your damage except in special circumstances, and a lot of bosses in Dark Souls are basically wars of attrition where you try to not run out of healing, so damage will always be important. With that said, don’t skimp on…

VigorIncreases your health. You should always mind your vigor and make sure you increase it a little here and there. There’s no reason to pump it early but even a pure caster should have around 25-30 when getting close to the end. As melee there’s no shame in getting it up to 40, and if you’re gonna PvP you probably need at least 40.

Endurance – I’ll probably ruffle some feathers by calling this a dump-stat but for most builds it is. Don’t increase your Endurance if you’re gonna PvE. You start with around 100 stamina and each point in Endurance increases your stamina pool by 1 or 2 point. Since weapons use 10-20 and sometimes up to 40 stamina per attack, you’re gonna need a huge amount of Endurance to be able to do longer combos. Again, this is better in PvP since stunlocking people or making sure you can always chase people down is integral. But in PvE your points are generally better spent elsewhere.

Vitality – Increase your weight limit by 1. How much Vitality you want is highly dependent on what kind of gear you want to use. All equipped gear weighs and the heavier your gear is in comparison to you maximum weight the slower your stamina regeneration is and the worse your rolls will be. Paradoxically, if you want to use a big shield, heavy armor and a spear you don’t need much Vitality, if any, as you only need to keep your weight at 65-70% of max. If you’re gonna use a medium-sized shield and moderately heavy armor keeping your weight at 45-50% is recommended so you get better rolls and stamina reg. This means a bit of Vitality is a good idea. Your defenses actually increases by a little bit when putting points in Vitality so if you want to be a supertanky hunk of iron with a ultra greatsword, get it to 40 or higher. You keep getting 1 point of max weight even above 40, though you don’t get much defense anymore by that point.
You can of course try keeping your weight below 30% or even lower by only using light weapons, a light shield and light armor AND increasing your Vitality.

Luck – Increases your chance of getting loot and increases the effects of bleeding and poison.
I want to love Luck, Arcane was my favourite stat in Bloodborne but it was a lot better there. For one, poison is useless in most situations. It takes quite a few hits to poison enemies and then it deals 3 damage per second. THREE! Bosses can have several thousand points of health while normal monster will have died long before they are poisoned. Bleed instead deals one third of the targets health when it procs. A lot better but you still need a lot of hits before it works. In short bleed and poison are at best support-effects for specific situations. Katanas for example deal high physical damage and applies bleed, so a Dex/Luck-samurai could work for example.

With that said, there’s a few weapons out there that scales with Luck, there’s even a staff that makes spells scale with luck. There’s also a gem you can infuse that makes a weapon scale with luck, though you won’t be able to infuse Hollow gems until somewhat late. (And no, you can’t rush it)

TL;DR – Luck is for specific, advanced builds or something you can increase later if you want to farm rare materials.

 

Making a build

You’ll be around lvl 80-100 when you reach the final boss and your stats start around 10 so you can probably get three stats to 40 or two to 40 and some Vigor and Attunement or something. Here’s some basic ideas.

Strength/Vitality/Vigor 40 – You’ll be a walking tank who can use the biggest weapons and the heaviest shields without breaking a sweat. The Warrior is your best starting class.

Strength/Dexterity/Vigor 40 – “Quality build”, you’ll be able to use pretty much all the weapons. Look for Refinement gems that makes weapons scale better with both Str and Dex. Any class but Sorcerer works, depending on if you’re gonna do some variation on the build with support spells, otherwise Warrior is probably best.

Dexterity 40, Strength/Vigor/Faith/Attunement ~25 – Dex/Faith with healing spells and lightning spells and weapons. Lower strength depending on your weapon of choice. Herald is probably the best choice but Cleric is plenty fine as well.

Dexterity/Endurance 40, Vigor/Vitality ~25 – Rapier or scimitar-wielder with huge amounts of stamina. Mercenary, Assassin or Thief.

Intelligence/Attunement/Vigor 40 – Pure soul-caster with huge mana-pool. Sorcerer or maybe Assassin if you’re gonna use daggers or the special Int-scaling bow later.

Intelligence/Faith/Attunement/Vigor/Strength ~25  – Pyromancer with a bit of everything. You can use a crossbow against smaller enemies and some extra “free” damage, a shield against some bosses, healing spells and powerful fireballs. A blast to play really! Cleric and Pyromancer are the best choices as you only need 8 Dex for most crossbows.

Intelligence/Faith 40, Vigor/Attunement ~25 – If you want to use all the spells all the time then this is for you. Look up where the NPC’s who sell spells are and where all their books are located. Also use a medium-sized shield with shield bash to push enemies away in a pinch. Pyromancer, Cleric or paradoxically Warrior are good starting classes, the last one gives you most of the defense you’ll ever need so you can focus on increasing you magic stats. Pyromancer is still probably best due to low luck and vitality (less wasted points).

Dexterity/Luck/Vigor 40 – Use katanas mainly as they can be infused with Hollow gems for great Luck-scaling. There’s a dude with a katana right outside the Firelink shrine, he is pretty hard though whan you first get there. Pick Mercenary or Thief as starting class.

There’s of course a ton of other builds out there but this should help you get started. If you have any questions you can just ask, I’ll answer within a day.

Starting gift

Nine times of ten you should pick extra souls, it’s two free levels. That tenth time you should pick Fire Gem since you can use it to infuse a weapon as soon as you reach Firelink Shrine. Fire weapons don’t scale with stats at all so you could have a backup fireweapon as a caster or use it as your main weapon if you’re gonna pump Endurance or something weird like that early on.

 

I’ll try to expand on this, I’ll probably post some builds or talk about a specific weapon-type, but for the moment this should be good enough for anyone to get started.

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The title says it all so I’ll first talk a bit about the third generation of Monster Hunter games.

((  Monster Hunter Tri is quite frankly the worst installment in the series. They re-introduced mandatory egg-quests and did less interesting re-imaginings of the old monsters as well as making Rathalos more frustrating than the original Azure Rathalos, which is quite a feat.
Not only that, they even removed weapons. Dual Blades, Gunlance and Bow specifically. And finally, underwater fights. While a cool concept, it was awful in practice. Monster Hunter is all about range and positioning, you always need to know where you are in relation to the monster and what attacks will connect. Well, that is a major bitch underwater so it always ended with your head touching the wyverns belly while madly swinging your weapon around. Hyperbole aside, underwater combat fucking sucked. Uragaan fuckings sucks, Gigginox is ridiculous, Barioth is the shittiest Tigrex-clone and they had an underwater Lao-Shan Lung. They also introduced the Aoshira-family, the easiest boss-monsters in the whole franchise. Honestly, the game is also by far the easiest, partly due to nerfing the monsters screams so hard Ear-Plugs was suddenly useless. The screams were just a bother and the skill went from mandatory for a lot of weapons to a pseudo-offensive skill for weapons that needs big combos (Longsword in particular)
All in all, Monster Hunter Tri was a clear step backwards for the franchise, when my brother asked if he should get it I flatly told him no. I’m a Monster Hunter fanatic, I’ve probably played the games over 2000 hours (I don’t keep count) and I told my brother he shouldn’t buy  a Monster Hunter game when he was clearly interested in it. You dun goofed Capcom.

Monster Hunter Portable Third (MHP3) was a cautious return to form. All the weapons were around, they re-introduced a ton of enemies and added a few more  (Jinouga is pretty cool for one) but overall it wasn’t much of a sequel either. MHP3 is just more of the same and is sadly also a lot easier than MH Freedom Unite. There weren’t that many weapons either, some weapon types even lacked certain elements. I liked it and I played it to completion (beating Amatsugamatsuchi) but I didn’t stay around to farm and beat all the missions.  ))

Now for Monster Hunter 4.

MH4U have taken all the best parts of the earlier installments (Khezu is back, Gravios is back, Rajang is back and apparently buffed!!!) and expanded on everything. The monsters deal a ton of damage again, there are two new sweet weapon types and you can do jump attacks!
I love jump attacks! When I play with Insect Glaive I do pole-jumps just for the hell of it, when I don’t I use a Launcher Palico so I can do more jump attacks! Did you know Hammers can use their charge with jump attacks? It’s awesome!

My point is that MH4U is fun fun fun! Like I said, the game is still a lot harder than Tri/3/whatever but they’ve managed to inject a huge amount of almost childlike glee. Monkeys get stuck with their butt upside down, you can rescue piglets with a fishing pole, your cat pals are INSANE, pulling out jet-packs and small tanks and in the middle of it all is you jumping down a mountain with a huge sword clad in woolly clothes and a bunny hood!
Monster Hunter has always been silly, at least 2 and forward but now they’ve embraced it fully. And it’s glorious!

On the customization side they’ve even added a function to trade materials from monsters not in the game just so they could add more weapons and armors. In other words there is more stuff than ever to make in all categories. There is also an absolute ton of quests to do and they’ve even added a kind of storyline (A pretty lame story obviously but a fun addition) that’s an excuse to have multiple towns with layers and layers of stuff to unlock. They’ve also improved the arena fights and added online scoreboards.

Last but certainly not least is the fact that there is an incredible amount of monsters around. They’ve decided they love reskins (I love them too, it means more weapons/armours and a working excuse to put the monster in an entirely different area.) but not counting that I know of at least five entirely new monsters and I haven’t even reached the elder dragons. Hell, I haven’t seen a Dablos yet and I’m almost done with solo high-rank, or am I…? There is apparently a total of 75 boss monsters around, beating Unites previous record of 58 quite handily. Tell me of any other game where there is 75 bosses with different attacks and weaknesses. Granted, there’s a lot of reskins but that should still mean about 40-50 bosses with wholly different attack patterns.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is quite simply the best Monster Hunter game made to date and I’ll play it til my 3DS breaks down and then I’ll buy a new 3DS to play until Monster Hunter 5 rolls around in 2018 or something…

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First off, it is fucking amazing! You can jump into the air while charging with a lance and stab things while descending! You can do a short charge followed with a shot with gunlance, hell you can shell in the air! And while Insect Glaive is wonky as fuck to get into with its flashy moves and often sub-par range, Switchblade is great from the go. Hell I like Insect Glaive too, I just need more training with it.

The demo is however seriously easy. I had more problems initially with Tetsucabra than with Gore Magala and the latters name just screams “HARDCORE!” When I loaded it up the game told me – “You crazy fool, why are you fighting Gore Magala? Good luck young’un, you’ll need it!” And I beat it on my first try. Its attacks are telegraphed from a mile away, even when it goes into fury mode it’s not that hard to dodge. Granted, it deals a hell of a lot of damage but ol’ Tigrex in MHFUnite is both faster and harder. Hell, Blangonga is faster than this guy and isn’t much easier.

I suppose my point is that MHF3 was way too easy and I’ve been hoping they’re toughening the game back up again. Devil-Jo was a bit of a bitch but nowhere near Rajang and all the new monsters are gemerella just easier versions of their older counterparts. Uragaan is easy, Agnaktor is just annoying, Jinouga is way too easy once you learn his moves (i.e the second time you play him) and so on. I couldn’t quite get into MHF3 because the game never went “Oh fuck you!” and just steamrolled me. Ucamulbas took me five-six tries to just beat once and Rajang meant 20-30 minutes of complete concentration every time. I mean yeah, I learned him but he was still hard. That green balloon monster I don’t remember the name of had a attack that one-shotted you if weren’t careful. I played with the Guts skill because I was lazy like that but it was cool. They even took away the scream-combos so earplugs went from almost mandatory to a bit of a waste. I’m rambling now but I’m repeating my point here, MH3 and its variations was way too easy and I’m really hoping 4 will be hard-as-nails again. Sadly Gore Magala is indication of continued pussification. Argh, I want Monster Hunter to make Dark Souls look easy by comparison, now it’s almost the other way around.

But again, the demo was amazing and I am so looking forward to the full game. It will be great and I will have a ton of fun, sadly the game probably won’t skullfuck me and throw my corpse over a cliff. :(

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It’s five o clock in the morning and I can’t sleep because I forgot to take my medicine which means my brain is full of useless ideas waiting to get out. I have over the years thought A LOT about the Mass Effect trilogy and this is some sort of not terribly condensed version of all these thoughts. The spark came from the fact that Mass Effect 1 is often the only game that gets on any lists despite me thinking it’s beyond its stellar writing a rather mediocre game.

First off, mechanics? Mass Effect 1 was pretty much Bioware doing their own Knights of the Old Republic. The combat is some sort of compromise between a third person shooter and a strategy-RPG and it’s kind of terrible. The AI for instance is absolutely awful with enemies running around the carbon-copied cargo-rooms like headless chickens. People complain about the cut-and-paste areas in Dragon Age II and here it’s equally bad, if not worse. But the AI. I’ve had enemies run straight towards me and my teammates in a narrow corridor, spraying like a maniac without hitting anyone and then running back behind some boxes while screaming at the top of his lungs (be darned if I can remember what they were shouting). Like the mechanics the AI is not quite that of an action game and not quite a strategy game, just a confusing amalgamation of the two genres.
The weapon balance is also off, as a handgun with Marksmanship is by far the best choice. First off, ss there’s no ammo clips Marksmanship lets you spray non-stop with great accuracy and damage. Add Adrenaline Rush and you can do it for longer than most fights last, every fight.
I have tried other weapons, playing through the game twice as different classes and trying a third but I’ll be damned if I do it again, I always have to take long breaks to stand the monotony. As in weeks-long breaks.
You see, pretty much every fight is fought the same. As your skills have such long cooldowns yet aren’t that powerful it comes down to you taking everything down with your own gun, and it’s just not a good shooter. During my two full playthroughs, one of them on the highest difficulty every goddamn fight could be beaten by using your abilities in the roughly same order and then shooting everything. Alright, slight exaggeration there but I almost fall asleep playing the damn game.
And don’t get me started on the car you’re fooling around with, or the inventory for that matter. *shudders*
Mass Effect 1 was mechanics-wise a decent first try at something new but combat is simple and repetitive and the AI is retarded.

On the other hand, the writing is top of the line. Unlike 2’s unexistent one and 3’s bad one ME1 has a pretty good story. The rogue special agent, the bickering politicians and omnipotent alien intelligence not to mention the great characters all makes for a great ride. Experiencing ME1 is simply a treat, it’s just too bad there’s all this fighting between the cut-scenes.
The characters, like I implied, are classics. Everyone loves Garrus, a lot like Wrex and I heard some like Liara. Not sure why though, maybe she was more interesting back here. Asaris are androgynous elves, which I might understand the appeal of but please, big yawn at Asaris. Tali on the other hand, great stuff, just like Ashley. I know Ashley is a racist redneck but she’s certainly a sympathetic one. There’s also this human guy but they forgot to give him a personality so whatever.
This bring me to the races and the whole setting. I’m really looking forward to Mass Effect 4, for me the series has always been about the great setting Bioware has created and not about Shepard saving the galaxy. I LOVE the Krogans and Quarians, I really like the Turians, Geth and the Salarians and most certrainly the Rachni. The Hanar are cool I guess while the Volus are a bit too much “Greedy dwarfs” for me. There’s also of course Vorcha, Reapers, Collectors and Batarians, all with their own quirks.
The only issue is of course that all the species have one cultural trait. Humanity have countless cultures yet the Volus are all moneypinchers and pretty much all the Krogans are warmongers. Thankfully individual characters are treated like individuals which is what saves the game (big time) from being a big pile of stereotypes.
The game is simply well-written in pretty much all ways and had I just rated it by that it could have gotten a goddamn ten, but as everything else is mediocre at best no dice.
If you want more examples look no further than side-questing. The quests are “Go to planet X, enter base somewhere on the surface and kill everything inside. Turn in quest.” Or the aforementioned inventory that you at times have to spend half an hour to sort and clean up (The sidequests doesn’t improve that much but at least the improved combat makes it fun). Or all the loading times. Or the fact that roleplaying is mechanically useless as you have to go all Renegade (Whiny bitch) or all Paragon (Self-righteous prick) to be able to do the hardest dialogue checks late in the game? This glaring flaw persists through the whole series and pisses me off to no end.
All in all, it gets a 7/10.

Mass Effect 2;
The more I think about this game the more I believe it was a stroke of luck. The highest difficulty is perfectly balanced and turns the game into a borderline puzzle-game where every fight has to be solved by using the right skills in the right order.
Because combat just went from bland to absolutely amazing with skills taking the front row instead of just supporting your guns. You can use them often, yet they share cooldowns which means you have to prioritise. On Insanity all enemies have a level of Shield, Barrier or Armor which means you need to bring the right characters for the job instead of just sticking with Grunt and hoping he shotgun-charges everything to death. And it is tough as nails yet I never feel its unfair (Unlike Mass Effect 3 or goddamn Dragon Age 2, the latter having one of the most badly balanced Hard Plus-difficulties). The classes are also a lot more unique and building your characters certainly is more interesting when every point actually does something instead of just being a minor buff to a mediocre skill. Might be exaggerating here again but really, combat in the first and second part of the trilogy is just miles from each other. Better AI, decent cover-mechanics, a much quicker pace and flawless balance. Goddamn flawless balance. I’m a challenge-junkie, there are few games I do not crank up on the highest difficulty out of general principle and ME2 is a game I can play over and over with different classes and builds just to muck around with the mechanics. They are great and are again, perfectly balanced against the opposition. It is by far the most well-designed game Bioware has ever made and most likely will ever make. Just look at Mass Effect 3 where balance is out the window again. There’s no rhyme or reason with the weapons while in ME2 every weapon have its own niche. There’s usually a slow weapon with big damage, one with high rate of fire and one inbetween. And it’s perfect. You don’t need to be able to upgrade every goddamn weapon, certainly not when more than half serve no use whatsoever.
And I mean, even the environments are well-balanced, usually contained to smaller rooms where you’re advancing inch by inch while trying to reach a goal of some kind. Every fight on Insanity is a riddle with multiple answers, and it’s fucking beautiful.

Also, all my favourite characters from the trilogy are here. Mordin is my big fave followed by Grunt and Thane. Tali is here as well as your BFF Garrus. Jack is a bit of a goth but she’s a cool character as well, certainly initially. The Bioware curse though is ever-present, they have no idea how to write interesting humans. Miranda is a frigid bitch-queen and Jakob is, a straight soldier…, guy, I guess? He’s almost as unintersting as that guy in ME1, the biotic one. *shrugs*
The Illusive man is alright though he turns into a psychotic imbecile in ME3, which is just a fucking shame because they had somethig with him. A believable big bad. But yeah, ruined him.
What I’m saying is that except for the completely unexisting story the writing is again amazing. It’s quotable as hell and some of the personal scenes I count as fond memories (like when Mordin does his song-routine). Also, I forgot Samara and her 1000 year old moody teenager. Because son, Morinth is just laughable. If that’s their idea of a seductive predator I hope they never make a vampire game of any sort. Samara on the other hand is cool I guess, mainly because she represents an interesting part of Asari culture, an anomaly of sorts.
Mass Effect 2 is to me pretty much a perfect game. It has stellar writing, great and memorable characters and absolutely amazing mehcanics and balance. It’s easily in my top five games of all time.
10/10 obviously

Now Mass Effect 3 manages to fuck up pretty much everything they did right in ME2. While combat should be more fun balance is awful. Instead of letting the enemies have a lot of health and medium damage they lowered health and increased damage by a lot. So on the highest difficulty a grenade pretty much oneshots you. Add a turret and at times you’re dead because the game fucking says so. Snipers deal way too much damage as well, making fights against multiple snipers a chore since you’re spending more than half of your time behind cover. Add husks or any other melee enemy and it’s moving into unplayable territory. Still, you also deal more damage than ever and some abilities simply deal way too much damage for its low cooldown. In ME3 I pretty much stopped using guns as Liara with a Singularity spec is a tad bit too powerful not to abuse. I didn’t all the time but the game often forced me to as it threw waves of snipers and turret/grenading engineers at me. Mass Effect 3 is on insanity often way too easy and at times WAY too hard. They have again no idea how to balance the enemies against the arsenal, mostly because it’s too goddamn big. Some skills are so powerful they turn others useless instead of the various skills having different useages.
And while the writing is certainly impressive in scope, it’s often overwritten. There is no need for all the characters to have heartbreaking drama or every goddamn mission weighing the fate of the galaxy on its scales. It’s constantly trying to outdo itself and it gets boring. I stopped caring in ME3 and so the ending just left me with a big “meh”. The characters turns into stereotypes of themselves as they all have to get their time in the limelight. The playable rooster is smaller than ever yet I’ve never cared so little for them.
Mass Effect 3 tried to do everything at the same time, bigger and better than ever but instead it has the worst writing by a long shot and combat turned into a big, stupid mess.
Mass Effect 3 still wasn’t that disappointing for some reason. It’s your typical Bioware game really. Well-written with shoddy mechanics and a bit of hubris.
6/10

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(I’m almost done with the story quests and closing in on 1000 EGO rating so I’ve seen enough to form a opinion.
Also, just to get it off my chest, I have on several occasions seen people nitpick about Defiance being a 3rd person shooter (A TPS(…)), not a FPS and I don’t see how it’s relevant to any discussion. Metroid Prime is technically a FPS. Defiance is a shooter in the same vein of Borderlands.)

Defiance, a shooter MMO from the creators of RIFT is a pretty well-made game. It certainly sets its bars high but sadly the creators rarely reaches up. But more on that later, lets just say that I’ve been having a absolute blast most of the time.

The good part
Defiance’s basic mechanics are like RIFT’s, robust as hell. There’s 10-15 types of weapons that you can level and in each category there’s three-four variations on it. Handguns does for example have full-automatic sprayers, semi-automatics with great aim, single-shot revolvers with huge recoil and damage, laserguns you can charge for multishots, guns you can charge for explosions and even more. There’s a lightning gun that locks on and jumps to other enemies or projects a shield around you or teammates and there’s five different kinds of this weapon. The list goes on, the amount weapons is amazing and is pretty much the main selling point, especially if you like say Borderlands.

And not only can you level your weapon skills, you can also level each single weapon and customise them with grips, sights, bigger magazines etc.

Like all modern RPG’s there’s a talent tree but everyone shares the same one since there’s not exactly classes. This is fine. You can only have one action skill (out of four) at a time but you can actually unlock and level all four given enough time and have completely different talent builds on your different set-ups. The talent tree as such is ok I guess, a lot of the talents are rather meh but as you can in the long run have eight of these passives equipped it makes a difference.

Actually playing the game brings to mind shooters like Ratchet and Clank, Max Payne and especially Borderlands rather than Gears of War, Halo or Call of Duty.
The pace is often insane with enemies everywhere since most don’t deal that much damage sitting behind cover slowly taking out one enemy at a time out is rarely needed. Personally I prefer that over modern “realistic” shooters where half the game is waiting for your health bar to up again. You’re pretty much always shooting at stuff in this game.

The monsters are also varied enough, there’s a number of monster categorys like Hellbugs, Dark Matter soldiers, Mutants and 99’ers that each has a number of different enemies of varying strengths. You’re mostly fighting trash but in all bigger quests and events you can expect to fight at least one of the big guys. This is again, a lot like Borderlands (I love Borderlands 2 more than any other shooter ever so that’s cool with me).
Where the game falters is in the balance between enemies. The 99’ers are generally really easy but suddenly a guy with a huge grenhade launcher who’s pretty much invulnerable from the front shows up. If you’re in a team this is fine but the fighting slows to a crawl if you’re on your own againt one of these and a bunch of other enemies.
And I haven’t even touched on the Volge. The Volge has huge health pools, rarely flinches, deals a lot of damage and can hit you while you’re rolling 50 meters away from them. A lot of encounters has you fighting 3 of these at a time which unless you have a very specific set-up aimed at fighting Volge, you’re screwed.
To add insult to injury only the basic enemies are this hard, they get easier as the mobs increase in power and healt. The biggest, the Elite Volge Viscera are basically just big bullet sponges. They’re slow, stupid and very boring to fight.

The heart of the matter with Defiance, like RIFT or Kingdoms of Amalur is that the creators bit off more than they could chew. The game is riddled with little inconsistencies that bog down the general experience (that again, is fucking great!). Driving can be awesome but not when you suddenly hit a invisible wall 3 polygons high that you cimply cannot drive past.
The environments sure are big but everything looks the same so driving quickly turns into a chore.

The quests, while numerous are often at best mediocre. A very common occurrence is picking up a quest in the middle of nowhere, driving a couple of hundred meters, shoot a dozen guys and then drive up to a kilometer to the nearest postbox. Then the next nearest quest is for some reason half a kilometer back the way you cam from. And no, you can’t have multiple quests as you don’t have a questlog, and I really don’t see why not.

The quests in themselves are often akin to “Those guy stole this thing I like, please kill them, collect that thing and send it to me. Thanks.” or variations thereof, say there’s a camp with badguys who has kidnapped nice guys or a robot wants you to pick flowers.

As for the writing, there is writing. As in, Trion certainly has hired someone to write motivations for why you’re depopulating this part of the world but it’s never, ever compelling. The main characters consist of a snarky girl, a badass sheriff, a greedy merchant and a asshole. Karl Von Bach, the asshole, is probably the most interesting character (I guess Torc Mok is cool) but narcissistic weapons scientists are only relateable when played by Robert Downey Jr.

What makes the story so bad is that it seems like it wants to be something more than just a narrative excuse to kill things but the person who typed it up had no idea how to write such a thing, but not for a lack of trying. When you’re nearing the end of the story it finally throws the pretense out the window and suddenly turns funny. Torc Mok and Von Bach has some good scenes, especially together but Rosa Rodriguez, Jon Cooper and Cass Ducar are dreadfully underdeveloped. There are other characters but they don’t even deserve mention as they’re at best a pile of stereotypes.

But again, I am having a great time with this game, it’s just that when I’m not shooting at things I wish I was since everything else is mediocre at best.
Defiance tries to emulate the genres greatest game, Borderlands 2, like RIFT tried to emulate WoW but in both cases it’s just a lesser copy. They’re both good but ultimately the developers simply doesn’t seem competent enough to pull off these kinds of huge projects.
I mentioned Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur and it’s a good example of the same thing. Big Huge games wanted to create the biggest, best free-roaming RPG ever but it instead felt like a big pot of stolen ideas served on silverware and toted as haute couture. Tasty yes, but certainly nothing special.

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So after more than 700 hours of Monster Hunter Freedom 2 and Unite on  the same character I have amassed 2 million guild points. Adding the hours from Monster Hunter 1 I’ve spent over 2000 hours beating huge monsters with huge weapons and I don’t regret a second of it. There simply is no other games that rewards hard work the way MH does.
The game expects you to prepare yourself before every single quests. You need the right armor, the right weapons and the right items for the job, at least as soon as you’ve stopped fooling around with normal rank quests.
And I love this, I love that the game does not give a fuck about what the players wants. The controls are great, the camera keeps improving and the menus are all clean and easily navigated. These are needs, without them the game would just be frustrating. But if you want something, a new weapon for example, you’re gonna have to work for it, and hard. This doesn’t just mean time but also (mainly in fact) effort. If you don’t try and learn how the enemies behave, which attacks can be pulled off at what moments and how long range the various monsters attacks have you’re screwed. In other words there is depth very rarely seen in other games

I have played;
499 Chief Quests
116 Nekoht Quests
170 Normal Hunting Hall Quests
468 High Rank HH Quests
432 G-rank Quests
1 Treasure Quest
97 Training Quests

I have of course also created a rather large collection of weapons and armor, something like 80 maxed out weapons and 15 g-rank armour sets, the majority of it dedicated to lances and gunlances.

And now I’ve gotten hold of Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, god help me…

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On a whim I bought SWTOR. I feel like I’m done (for the moment) with Dark Souls having finished it five times from scratch just to try different weapons and stat builds. I haven’t bothered to beat new game+ since it’s the same thing over again with the same weapons. Doing quickrolling in full Havels would be cool I suppose but on these really high difficulties would it really matter what armor I’m using at all? I rarely get hit straight now anyway unless I’m playing my shields-only character.

ANYWAY.

I checked out the classes of SWTOR before even considering buying the game and I decided a MMO cover shooter sounded completely awesome. I have so far played through three of the four starting areas. I first started a imperial agent who later became a Sniper, the a Sith Inquisitor who became a sorceror and then a republic trooper who became a commando. The sorceror reminded me of a elemental shaman something fierce and was just as boring to play. I will probably never touch it again. The CC abilities which was sort of the point of the class didn’t even work against heavier enemies which was when I actually needed them…

Something that made the inquisitor worse was something that kind of plagues the whole game. The starting area tried to be grim but thanks to artistic style and writing it felt silly and convoluted. Your superior who kept calling you names and saying you were gonna die felt like a schoolyard bully instead of a sith hatemonger. The whole game has a bit of this. Often in dialogues you have an option that tries to make you look independent and headstrong but instead you come across as a whiny dickhead. But more on that later. The whole starting area was bad in general really feeling cramped and yet having huge running distances and the only enemies were humanoids and big worms.

Commando was a lot of fun at times and monotone after a long dungeon. As with all other MMO’s (and most games really) I see attacks in terms of attack speed, damage and method i.e channeled, charged or instant. And the most effective way to play trooper at first was to spam grenades which knocked down things. But it looked retarded since I was a soldier with a laserrifle so I kept using my shoddy standard attack out of sheer artistic reasons (or something). I felt the class had potential, running around shooting grenades and laserbeams all over at least felt cool and you could keep one hell of a tempo if anything. The story was alright and the starting area fine. Some variation in the missions and a few cool scenes.

But, so far imperial agent has outclassed everything else by far. Setting up your cover, assessing the opposition and then nuking the fuck out of the enemies before they can assemble and launch a counterattack always feel cool, especially against tougher mobs. The starting area was without doubt the best, infiltrating the organisation of a major crimelord IS cooler than chasing after a bomb or getting screamed at by some asshole (abusing words, I know). I might check out the jedis starting plot but I’m not having high hopes, the thought of swinging around a lightsaber fills me with uneasy feelings for some reason, it just look fucking silly in-game. Especially in comparison to a special agent wielding a sniper rifle. Taste n all.

Anyway, since I deconstruct every single game I play I’ll share my thoughts of this game, decontructed and all.

First of all, Blizzard is still way ahead of constructing quest hubs. In SWTOR you reach a hub, pick up a few quests and then run in a huge circle around a landscape before turning them all in. It’s like it’s Wrath of the Lich King. Not as horrid as say Nagrand but Cataclysm set some sort of standard for how awesome questing can be and SWTOR is not living up to it. That is, mechanically speaking. When you reach a new hub you pick up the aforementioned quests and go picking them off one at a time. Then after a while you get more and more quests leading to the same place. Class-quest-area! In all the dungeons with classquests there will be a plethora of other lesser quests to finish and often a few to pick up while in there. You know you’ll be stuck in there for at least 30 mins and often an hour thanks to the insane spawnrate. You will have to kill most of the groups at least twice because they seem to have a spawnrate of mere minutes. Often the bodies from the last group haven’t despawned before the next group pops up. Having to slog your way out of the dungeon just to reach the exit is boring. Combat is fine and basicly a more polished WoW but it’s not fun enough to warrant this kind of endless fighting. MMO’s and all but when I’m done with a area I want to turn in my quests, not fight thirty more groups of enemies to reach the questgivers. Oh yes there’s quicktravel but there’s often questgivers right outside the dungeon or even inside it meaning you have to slog through everything again.

What saves this buttonmashing fest is of course the narrative. There is a absolutely huge amount of dialogue in this game with perfectly fine voiceacting and good writing so as not to spoil the talent on display here. The quests feels varied and you always have a valid reason for killing another 20 mobs or picking up 10 more doodads. The dialogue options work great although there’s hickups here and there with the NPC’s not actually replying to you, they just keep talking as if you didn’t say anything at all.

The only issue here is that in more than 50% of the quests theres some sort of major moral choice. This in itself is rather silly as they get tiring quick. At the end of each quest some guy pops up and says “PLEASE DONT KILL MY FAMILY!” or something rather similar. Children or civilians in general are often involved. The subissue here is that you’re foten given the choice between being a decent human being or a complete dick. At times you’re given a third choice with you being only a semi-dick. Well you see the issue here. Moral grayzones do exist but they’re rare. As this game does seem to cater to a little more grown up demographic despite the artistic style (Can be because of the Lucas Arts/Bioware thing, a compromise of some sort?) I had hoped the choices would be more than “Kill the guys family” or “Don’t kill his family.” Of course, with there being hundreds of quests not every choice can be thoughtinspiring. But then again, why must there be moral choices over the whole fucking place if half of them mean nothing anyway? Or they could be lesser like in Mass Effect where you can decide to be bit of a dick to a dick. In SWTOR it’s usually kill the guy or don’t kill the guy.

But despite all of this I do enjoy the narrative and there being a reason for all the quests. This is very impressive for a MMO. I also love how well they’ve implemented ranged weapons like rifles. Combat feels more fluid than most MMO’s and sort of reminds me of Champions. While not as great as Champions it’s backed up by meaningful quests of which Champions has absolutely none. Biggest comparison is probably the lack of autoattacks in both which is nice. The energy-system seems to have a little depth to it as well so I’ll probably have fun with my DPS-experiments.

And, this is just an initial assessment obviously. I’ve reached lvl 21 so far on my sniper so I haven’t seen that much yet but what I’ve seen I like. I’d probably give it a 8 or something like that, I’ve played for three days straight and I don’t really feel like stopping.

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